BY DERMOD TRAVIS
Splat. It would seem British Columbia’s 41st general election is well underway.
The uproar this week over news that someone may have hacked the B.C. Liberal party’s website is a harbinger of things to come, so fasten your seat belts.
Lost in the charges and counter-charges over the alleged hack is a characteristic most hackers share.
Any hacker worth their salt doesn’t want “the hackee” to know they’ve been hacked.
It’s a risk losing your hacking-licence offence.
They certainly wouldn’t give it up for a list of 100 or so names.
When individuals tied to the Russian government allegedly hacked their way into the computers of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, they didn’t do a celebratory high-five and walk away, they stuck around.
The Liberal party attempted to muddy the waters even more this week by claiming that one of the computers that may have tried to hack its website is located somewhere in the legislature, at least according to its IP address.
Call it the fog of cyberspace.
IP addresses don’t always identify the computer that a hacker sat in front of while they were hacking a way, sometimes they only identify a computer hijacked by the hacker to hack.
More than 70,000 pages of the Liberal party’s website have been copied by at least one perpetrator, since 2000.
Most of the pages have since been deleted from the party’s site, but they all live on and are publicly available at the click of a mouse.
The San Francisco-based Wayback Machine – a digital Internet archive – routinely takes snapshots of websites, including the Liberal party’s and has done so 11 times since the beginning of December.
As they say, the Internet never forgets.
If the mudslinging has commenced, what else can we look forward to in the coming weeks? Newspeak, spinning and severe fact rationing.
It can seem like a cross between living in a parallel universe and the film Groundhog Day.
The 2017 Port Moody-Coquitlam provincial election blog has been tracking the government’s growing list of “number one” priorities.
In 2014, Premier Christy Clark tweeted that class composition in the province’s schools was the number one priority because “students’ needs come first.”
A year later “the top priority was and remains the development of LNG in B.C.,” according to a Clark quote in a B.C. Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Update.
Last March after a clean energy conference, Clark said that “securing federal cash to upgrade the hydro grid between BC and Alberta was the number one priority of her government.”
A month later at the Council of Forest Industries’ Convention “achieving a softwood lumber agreement was the number one priority.”
It would seem number one priorities shift based on the audience.
Using the hashtag #bcfirst, the government also likes to boast about being number one, but never about B.C. being first in Canada for part time jobs, first for highest housing costs or MSP premiums.
Then there will be the defending the indefensible spin or it’s OK for our party, but not yours.
Case in point, this quote: “He was pretty young then. He’s probably matured over the last four years. He’s apologized unreservedly.”
Damage control over a back-dated memo or racists tweets?
It would be the words of Housing Minister Rich Coleman, co-chair of the B.C. Liberal election campaign, last year defending then-candidate Randy Rinaldo over a series of tweets in 2012 and 2013.
An apology was good enough for Coleman. Should all politicians be so forgiving.
White lies are being trotted out. The other day, Coleman erroneously claimed on CKNW that B.C. has the third lowest hydro rates in North America.
Not true, according to Coleman’s own source material.
Out of 11 Canadian cites, Vancouver has the fifth lowest rates in one model and seventh lowest in two others. In 2007, Vancouver was second lowest in all three.
As former New York senator, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not their own facts.”
So sit back and get ready for some good old-fashioned mudslinging not seen in these parts for some time, a strong dose of double-standards in the political spin department and a few guffaws over fact-checking.
Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca